October – The Month of Reflection

So this month has been…….different.  It never really has been “a month” for me historically, though I have a few family members who celebrate their birthday during the month and what not.  But before 2011, October was not especially reflective.  That all changed last year, and for weeks I have been thinking about those events as well as the subsequent happenings during the months that followed.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  Last year, on October 30th, I received a call from Aracelly – my oldest brother’s ex-wife.  While I held no animosity towards her, we had naturally fallen apart after my brother and she divorced years before.  So it was weird that I received this ominous voice mail to please call as soon as I could.  As a mother, and a Professional Worrier in Training, I was able to think of some pretty scary reasons that she was calling in the moments it took me to call.  I actually reached Aracelly’s sister first, who gave me another number to reach her.  Yet even though I thought of many horrors that she needed to tell me, I was unprepared to actually hear what she had to share.

My brother Joey, was in critical condition and would probably not survive the night.  In fact she explained that he was in New York, in the middle of surgery, and it seemed pretty bad.  During this call, there was not a ton of information other than he had collapsed and that his brain was bleeding and the doctors were unsure of if he was brain dead or not.  Their daughter, Natalie, had been in Finland for school and was trying to get to New York to be with her dad.  Oh, and there was one other concern – if he made it out of surgery and if he even had brain function……..he had Stage IV kidney cancer.

I am not sure I will ever forget that moment in time – when time itself seemed to halt, as my heart raced, as my mind spun yet lacked focus to comprehend all that I needed to, the pain that I initially pushed back as I was afraid it would overwhelm me to a point where I’d be useless in helping, and the memories of my childhood and my brother that flooded before my tear-filled eyes.  Soon my mind switched to my niece Natalie, whom I felt a connection to despite the years we had not interacted, and wondered how best I could help HER while trying to ignore the pain I imagined she must be feeling as well.  But, like most things in my life, I function the best in coordinating/planning/notifying family/action plan creating and moved there almost immediately. 

Today, if I am honest with you, I almost wish I could go back to that moment because, back then my brother was alive……..

In any case, just as last year proved, I remind myself and you that there were some pretty awesome moments after that shocking phone call that I feel very blessed to have occurred despite the sadness that existed or the dire straights that had been communicated.  And in honor of my brother’s life, I’d like to recount those here with you over the coming days as I recreate those moments that began last year.

In the mean time, please enjoy my brother’s Memorial Slide Show.